<p>Paleontology or Palaeontology ( /ˌpælɪɒnˈtɒlədʒi/) is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). As a "historical science" it attempts to explain causes rather than conduct experiments to observe effects. Palaeontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century B.C.E. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek: παλαιός (palaios) meaning "old, ancient," ὄν, ὀντ- (on, ont-) meaning "being, creature" and λόγος (logos) meaning "speech, thought, study."
Palaeontology lies on the border between biology and geology, and shares with archaeology a border that is difficult to define. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics and engineering. Use of all these techniques has enabled palaeontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3,800</p>